The Pentacrest has a new larch

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The larch and the crew that planted it, Nov. 14, 2019 — Jav Ducker/Little Village

A new European larch was planted on the University of Iowa Pentacrest Thursday morning to take the place of the larch that was felled by strong winds during a storm in the early morning hours of Sept. 10. That tree was approximately 70 years old, and beloved by generations of UI students and other visitors to the Pentacrest.

Appropriately enough, given the make-up of the UI student body both past and present, the new tree is a teenager from the Chicago suburbs.

“The new European Larch tree is approximately 15 years old,” UI Director of Media Relations Anne Bassett explained in a written statement. “Native Larch trees can live over 200 years, and the new tree is expected to live 100-plus years as long as Mother Nature is kind to it. The tree came from Fiore Nursery, located in the Prairie View and Bolingbrook suburbs of Chicago.”

The newly planted larch on the Pentacrest, Nov. 14, 2019. — Jav Ducker/Little Village

Generally speaking, fall is a good time to plant a deciduous tree, according to Richard Jauron, extension program specialist at Iowa State University and a mainstay of the Hort Gang on Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa.

“Mid-November is rather late in the fall planting season (especially this year with the winter-like weather in recent weeks),” Jauron said in an email. “Planting the tree correctly and periodically watering the tree until the soil freezes improves the tree’s survival odds. The tree should be checked if there is a prolonged period of mild temperatures this winter.”

The previous larch “had survived the 1998 straight-line winds and suffered damage from both the 2006 tornado and 2007 ice storm,” wrote Thomas Dean in the most recent issue of Little Village. “It provided shade for many during the Iowa City Jazz Fest and other Pentacrest performances. It had entertained generations of students and kids with its long, low branches that were easy to climb on, though many on campus tried to discourage it.”

The new tree is approximately 28 feet tall, and it will be years before any of its branches are big enough for even the smallest child to sit on.

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